History of the Name: Ua Nemhnainn/Ó Nuanáin/Nunan/Noonan


The ancient name Noonan originally appeared in Gaelic as ‘O Nuadhain’ and was derived from ‘ionmhain’ meaning “descendant of the beloved one”, which was a reference to the original chief of the clan. The name is associated primarily to the province of Munster, from Waterford to Tipperary, and particularly to Co. Cork where it originated. The Ua Nemhnainn was one of five semi-independent clans of Fianna Ériann, provincial warrior sodalities that played a pivotal military role in early 3rd century Ireland. They composed the standing army of High King Cormac while he undertook a campaign of focused raiding into Britain, which was left vulnerable by the Roman ‘Crisis of the 3rd century.’ After the rise of Catholicism the clan also were noted as “erenaghs,” or hereditary minor lords, who had the specific responsibility of maintaining and managing church property in their particular area, which in this case was the church of St. Beretchard, at the village of Tullylease in the barony of Dulhallow. After the Protestant Reformation in the mid 16th century institutions such as “erenaghs” began to be eliminated, and were lost by the end of the 17th century. The first recorded name holder was William O’Noonan in 1340, in England.

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